Like most writers, I love to read. A lot. Half the time I spend reading, I should probably be writing. A writer friend of mine once told me she never reads while she’s working on a novel, lest the other author’s style and voice seep into her own. I admire her fortitude, but I honestly couldn’t do the same. Months without books? I’d rather die.
One genre I’ve recently discovered and fallen madly in love with is the food memoir. For the uninitiated, these are tales of life intertwined with food, usually including recipes. I believe the first of these I read was Giulia Melucci’s I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, an amusing if somewhat self-pitying tale about her series of disastrous boyfriends and what she cooked for them. As someone who’s had her own share of bad luck on the relationship front, I could certainly relate, but I didn’t have much luck with any of her recipes. (In Giulia’s defense, the fault probably rests with me.)
Then I stumbled upon Molly Wizenberg’s fabulous A Homemade Life. This beautifully written book, filled with essays about everything from her excursions to Paris, her father’s death from cancer, the unusual way she met her husband, to how she came to start her foodie blog Orangette, makes you fall in love with its author. Molly is funny and she is real – you can imagine being her friend, sharing a meal with her or having a laugh over a few drinks. Because of my previous experience with I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, I hesitated in making any of the dishes described in A Homemade Life. Molly made them sound wonderful, as I’m sure she could make fried cat food with moldy cottage cheese sound wonderful, but they also sounded weird. Radishes and butter? Pickled grapes? Tomatoes roasted until they’re puckered and wrinkly? Hmm…
Some of the best advice I’ve received about living a life less ordinary is to make every day an adventure. Admittedly, I’m not living by the ocean yet, I still have a day job, my novels are still unpublished, and I’ve yet to fight in the ring. But I love cooking and I love reading, and trying new things is always an adventure. So on Sunday, I threw caution to the wind and prepared a four-course feast from Molly’s book. Thankfully, The Boy is always up for anything, especially when it comes to my cooking. I made the Radishes and Butter With Fleur De Sel; Arugula Salad with Chocolate and Pistachios; Caramelized Cauliflower with Salsa Verde; and of course, the slow-roasted tomatoes. I even pickled the grapes!
This time around, my love of the food memoir was rewarded. Every course was absolutely delicious. The cauliflower, which looked burnt, was tender and sweet. Serving it with a sauce that wasn’t the color of Cheez Whiz was different, but The Boy (a confirmed lover of cheese sauce) actually preferred the piquant salsa verde, which gets its bite from raw garlic and jalapeno. The radishes were amazing and I may never make a salad without chocolate again, but the slow-roasted tomatoes? Wow. We ate them on slices of baguette smeared with goat cheese, and let me tell you, I have never tasted a tomato that delicious. The leftover tomatoes quickly disappeared. Well worth the six hours it took to make them. And the pickled grapes? They taste a lot like those little pickled onions you can buy at the supermarket. Who knew?
How do you choose to make your life an adventure? What’s the strangest food you’ve ever tried? Please share! If at least TWENTY people comment with their adventure and/or strange food stories, I will choose a winner at random and send him/her a copy of Molly’s book via Amazon.
Side note: the pad work with The Boy went well last night. He’s a fast learner, and I’ve still retained a lot of power, especially with my knees, apparently. However, my cardio sucks! I have a lot of work to do unless I want to collapse when I return to the dojo. My wrist felt okay with everything except for the right uppercuts – have to take it easy with those still.
To Bed: 11:15 pm
Awake At: 6:20 am
Exercise: 20 minute interval run, 35 minutes of pad work, sit-ups
Novel Pages Written: Four
I’ll leave you with a video my friend Claudine shared on Facebook yesterday that made me smile. Happy Tuesday!